Desert Isle Keeper
One hates to gush over two books in one month, but here I am, gushing away. Ilona Andrews’ latest in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Slays, is the best yet. All of the books in the series have been good, solid reads with lots of excitement, but I’ve always wanted more tenderness in Kate’s relationship with Curran, the beast lord, and this time Andrews delivers.
The book begins with unusually mundane Kate-type problems. Her adopted daughter Julie has run away from school again, and is making her way home to Atlanta on foot. Kate’s business is in the red and there is no indication that it will become healthier any time soon. The trash collector bill remains unpaid due to clerical error, and Kate is contemplating whether or not she should show up at their customer service center with her sword and solve that problem. Dealing with family problems and business minutiae is not Kate’s cup of tea, and she’s ready for some action.
Her prayers are answered in the form of a telephone call from Ghastek, Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead. One of the Ghastek’s People fainted and lost control of her vampire, an almost unheard-of occurrence, and the vicious, mindless killing machine is heading toward Kate’s office, with Ghastek not far behind. Kate manages to catch the vampire long enough for Ghastek to take control of it, just as the Paranormal Activity Division of the Atlanta PD shows up. Ghastek and Kate are trying to convince the PAD that no harm was done by the vampire, when the unheard-of happens again and Ghastek faints dead away in the street, leaving the vampire once again out of control. The resulting violence – as the PAD tries to destroy the vampire before it kills someone – leaves Kate with gunshot refugees in her office and the PAD pounding at her door.
Once that situation is cleared up, and while Kate is pondering how to bill Ghastek for the vampire’s capture, Rene, a character from a previous book in the series, walks into the office and requests Kate’s help. It seems that she and her team of Red Guardsmen have lost the inventor they have been body-guarding, as well as the device the inventor was creating. A mutilated guardsman was left behind, and the only clue the frightened Rene has is that her superior, when told about the loss, ordered his family to pack up and take a long vacation a couple of states away. Rene wants Kate to find out how the Red Guardsmen were infiltrated and to retrieve the inventor before Rene’s reputation is ruined.
Is Ghastek’s odd fainting spell related to Rene’s kidnapped inventor? Kate’s investigations lead her to contact many different factions of the magical community, some friendly, most not. In this book it is the supposed allies that Kate has to guard against. One attacks Kate’s dependents, and another gives Kate good reason to suspect Curran’s motives in pursuing her. The seed of doubt finds fertile soil in Kate’s memories of her difficult past. Regardless of her insecurities, Kate has to convince Curran and the other faction leaders to work together against the growing threat of the missing device.
As we’ve come to expect from the husband and wife team that is Ilona Andrews, this book is engrossing and the writing is solid. I found it difficult to put down. As always with this series, there is action, action, action, and the lives of the protagonists seem to be in real peril. There are a couple of “Oh my gosh! – NO!” moments, a great mystery, and also joy.
What makes this book particularly delicious is the great deal of relationship building that occurs between Kate and Curran. Kate is now Curran’s mate and alpha female of the pack. Her new role, and their efforts at learning how to deal with each other are alternately angsty, heartwarming, and humorous.
Now that I’ve completely spoiled new readers with the news of Kate and Curran’s relationship, I need to recommend that the series be read from book one. Andrews’ Atlanta is a complex place with a lot of important backstory that shouldn’t be missed. The magic that washes in and out like the tides is a huge part of this book, and it is taken for granted that the reader understands the process. There are many secondary characters that played important roles in previous books as well. Some of these secondary characters are close to Kate’s heart and, without reading the previous books, a new reader will have no inkling what a huge step allowing these people to become dear to her has been for Kate.
I highly recommend Magic Slays. It’s not often that the fifth book in a series is as strong, or perhaps even stronger, than the previous books. Hopefully this means we’ll be hearing from Kate Daniels for a long time to come.